Published: Wed, October 10, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Sulawesi quake: French rescuers search for bodies amid debris

Sulawesi quake: French rescuers search for bodies amid debris

More than 1570 people have been confirmed dead after a magnitude 7.5 natural disaster struck near Central Sulawesi last week, setting off a destructive tsunami that hit the coastal city of Palu.

The 7.5 magnitude quake on September 28 brought down many buildings in the small city on Sulawesi island, 1,500 km (30 miles) northeast of Jakarta, while tsunami waves smashed into its beachfront.

Indonesian soldiers help offload the 10.6 tonnes of supplies brought by a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft to Palu, the Indonesian port city devastated by a 7.5-magnitude natural disaster and tsunami on 28 September. Fuel remained another concern, with villagers forced to queue at pumps for more than six hours.

"I'm certain it's her". Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country. "She was such a happy child".

Ambulances on Friday brought a group of remains to the grave.

In the Petobo neighbourhood nearby, a team of French rescue experts began hunting through an expanse of debris, looking for hands, feet or any body parts of victims sticking out of the mud. The team's task is to find and retrieve the bodies at the surface to clear the way for the heavy machinery to come in and dig deeper.

"We're going to clear off all the superficial rubble that's on top and get into the spaces and see if there are bodies", Allibert told Reuters as he surveyed a awful jumble of debris.

The chanting marked the end of a day filled with prayers and more burials as many survivors leaned on their faith to help them overcome grief and confusion.

"It might take four to five months to remove all the soil, and that's with the excavators", he said.

The grim news comes as relief efforts were ramped up to reach 200,000 people in desperate of help after days of delays.

Amidst the shock and grief, some better news emerged.

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No one knows how many people are missing but it is at least in the hundreds, rescuers say.

A coastal strip dotted with villages north of Palu was cut off for almost a week by landslides blocking its single road. The number of dead is expected to soar as rescue crews comb through affected areas after being slowed initially by broken, impassable roads and other damage.

People living in the camp said two residents died in collapsing houses in the village.

"Based on reports from village chiefs in Balaroa and Petobo, some 5,000 people have not been found".

Authorities have yet to conduct a tally of casualties in districts near the epicentre, but Lakuaci estimated dozens of people had been killed.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi says military transport aircraft from India and Singapore have arrived to help in relief efforts in central Sulawesi, which was hit by a powerful quake and tsunami.

But it has accepted help from overseas for the disaster in Sulawesi.

The Aid or access is still an obstacle to reach the stricken communities on Indonesian island of Sulawesi, UN aid agencies said on Friday.

"There was a palpable sense of relief from the evacuees when they got into our Herc", Flight Lieutenant Dave Natapu, aircraft captain from RNZAF No 40 Squadron, said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abdurrahman Mohammad Fachir told a briefing in Jakarta ministries were coordinating to facilitate the arrival of aid.

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